International SEO: the perks of Latin American Inbound


September 05, 2016

An Inbound Marketing Strategy in Latin America requires exact SEO optimization to grasp the diversity of terms used in the region. However, there are untapped riches and a great space to grow for demand generation, automation, and lead nurturing. Just watch your search terms: we're a very diverse continent. 

Latin America Keeps Growing From Abroad

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment for the year 2015 in Latin America amounted to US$167.6bn. The top host economies were:

  • Mexico (US$39.3bn)
  • Brazil (US$64.6bn)
  • Chile (US$20.2bn)
  • Colombia (US$12.1bn)
  • Argentina (US11.7bn)

 In 2015, HubSpot’s VP of International Operations and Strategy, Nataly Kelly, wrote a fascinating column for The Economist titled “How Marketing Is Evolving in Latin America.”

“Latin America is a modern marketer’s dream, and not just because of its size. By 2020, nearly one out of every 10 dollars in the world economy will come from Latin America. The region will soon represent 10% of the global population and 9% of global GDP, with 640 million customers. It also has the fourth-largest mobile market in the world, with social media adoption even surpassing that of the United States.

Positioned at the forefront of digital and mobile adoption, Latin America provides an interesting look into how new marketing trends are taking hold on a global scale.”

While Inbound Marketing is Growing, its Development is Still Largely Untapped in the Region.

Nataly Kelly says that by comparison, very few companies in Latin America use marketing software today, and only 3% of respondents listed automation as their top priority for software features, as marketers are more focused on content creation and SEO.

However, according to the State of Inbound Latin America 2016, Inbound is a preference for companies with less than 200 employees, and one of their top priorities is Internationalization.

However, there is more than meets the eye, and International SEO can be a tricky business if you use a one-size-fits-all approach. With internationalization, trade barriers in Latin America are disappearing, and foreign investment is increasing considerably in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico.

However, Spanish is the official language of over 400 million people in more than 20 countries. The problem is, they all have different slang, jargon, and customs. Therefore, a good Inbound Marketing strategy for the Latin American market needs to address these perks through a good SEO strategy.

There are cultural, economic and social preferences that you need to address

before entering a Latin American Market.

  • Chilean slang includes words in Spanish and German, English, French, Quechua, and Mapudungun.
  • The colloquial term for baby in Chile (Guagua) means bus in many other countries in the region.
  • The informal tone in Argentinian and Uruguayan Spanish is completely different from the rest of the region, as they’ve adapted it from the Italian.
  • And so many more…

Here are Some Perks from Many Latin Americans:

1. We Like it all in Writing.

When people agree to something, you tell them verbally. Many times it just means maybe. In fact, an agreement is better binding in writing.

2. Watch your (In)formal Tone.

The beauty of the English language is that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing someone: you. However, depending on the industry, position, or country you’re approaching, the use of formal or informal tones can be key to opening the door, getting a handshake, or looking too presumptuous, so study very well how people treat each other.

3. Mind the Local Jargon (or Lose it).

Did you know that TV shows like "telenovelas" have to be turned into a neutral accent or even dubbed in many Latin American countries? By themselves, local Latin American media markets cannot expand, but together they can do wonders.

The same happens to an Inbound Marketing strategy for Latin America. In many cases, the use of local jargon can indeed localize your content to one country, whereas using standard terms can expand your reach. Likewise, if you want to target a particular country, you’d better start your research and see what people say casually, without becoming rude.

4. Find Good Personal Referees.

Even though we’re sociable, most Latin Americans will look for good third-party references before building trust from other people. This is an Inbound Marketing predicament. In our experience, once a lead is introduced to a brand from an acquaintance, nurturing works so much better. 

5. Latin Americans are quite different from Continental Hispanics.

Even though we share a common language and traditions, we deliver that language speaking and writing, and words are completely different. Latin Americans, for instance, have adopted foreign words in their day-to-day language (like marketing). In contrast, continental Spaniards are reluctant to “butchering the tongue of Miguel de Cervantes” (the author of Don Quixote).

Even if you try and localize your website, emails, and communications, bear in mind that we use terms in an entirely different manner and context.

6. Lose the “America.”

The fastest way to prompt a rejection is to start a pitch saying Vengo de America instead of Vengo de Estados Unidos. Overseas, it's the United States. Period.  

7. We Have a Very Diverse Language.

It’s part of the richness of this vast region. We have our customs, traditions, and manners to address our friends, acquaintances, relatives, and even marketing qualified leads. However, don’t try to cipher the dos and don’ts of SEO for every country on the continent. As locals, we struggle to understand our neighbors ourselves.

Rely on plenty of research, such as local newspapers and trade magazines, social media comments, and good and thorough SEO analysis. Interview local experts and have them join you as guest bloggers.

8. Nurture Hispanics in the U.S. On Their Own Merit.

Americans know it best, as they come from many cultures that merged into an entirely new continent. They reflect the countries of origin of their forbearers but have become Americans.

Part of my family comes from Continental Spain, and part of it arrived from Northern Italy. They adapted and blended in Chile and made this country their own. However, when I visited Spain or Northern Italy, I found myself in a strange land, mixing different customs and a series of other similar traditions.  

The same happens with Hispanics in the United States. According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 37.6 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their first language, and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 128.8 million by 2060. They may reflect the culture of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, or Mexicans, but they’ve also blended with American traditions.

Therefore, their preferences, search options, and search engine optimization may not fully reflect how the market in their countries of origin behave. Likewise, a good SEO analysis for Puerto Rico may not be a truthful reflection of Puerto Ricans outside their native country.

There is no magic recipe: is it better to extend an entirely new strategy for the region or a specific one for each market?

We need to research each market and build our buyer personas accordingly to connect the dots, create content offers unique to a particular market, and generic content strategy that can address the entire region.

Where in Latin America do you see opportunities for Inbound Marketing to grow?

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My name is Izzy and I am a co-founder of CRM Toolbox, an award-winning HubSpot Solutions Partner. I lead our team of consultants who provide professional guidance to help businesses implement the HubSpot CRM platform migrate, integrate their tech stack to HubSpot to create a seamless environment for sales reps to use. There is nothing I love more than solving the challenges that come up when someone wants to migrate an old system or integrate their tech stack with HubSpot - it's like a puzzle!

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